Conclave 2010: Friday and Sunday

Finally wrapping up the theatres we visited on Friday and Sunday’s Afterglow…


The 792 seat Goshen is a circa-1907 playhouse now operating as a church.

Morris, South Bend

Another example of an Indiana theatre saved by the community, the 1922 Beaux Arts Palace theatre was purchased in 1959 by Mrs. E.M. Morris and sold to the city for $1. It was restored 10 years ago. The adjacent Palais Royale ballroom languished for many years before its 2002 restoration.

Palais Royale Ballroom, South Bend

State Theatre, South Bend

The State  Theatre, also in South Bend, was designed by Newhouse & Bernham, a Chicago firm responsible for many other theatres.

Rees Theatre, Plymouth

Finally, the Rees, a simple small-town theatre with a deco facade.

Sunday’s Afterglow led us on the road to Louisville and Lexington…

Kentucky Theatre, Lexington

The Kentucky in Lexington was a distinctive design, large with all seats on the floor and topped with a now-lost art glass dome. According to our guide, the dome was removed after it was suggested that it may have contributed to poor acoustics. Theatre owners and operators would be well-advised to seek expert opinion before drastic and possibly unnecessary and costly measures are taken; we heard several stories of asbestos curtains removed instead of being sealed, or historic features altered on a whim. The Kentucky is nonetheless a fine theatre, along with the adjacent State, which has a largely recreated, but still attractive, interior.


Lexington Opera House

Built in 1887, the Opera House speaks just as loudly of 1976, the year it was expanded and extensively restored. An attractive house, it boasts a “folding proscenium”, hinged to expand the stage width.

Broadway, Louisville

I thought the Broadway was one of the real highlights of our tour, and one of those places you would not know existed, much less accessed, without THS. Discovered by Andy Pierce in the files at Elmhurst, the Broadway is difficult to spot. Members of THS frequently describe a “sixth sense” for sniffing out former theatres; we spot the stagehouse, detect typical architectural motifs, spot a recessed lobby where a box office was or a former marquee sign, or the hangers that once held the signs. We know where to look; old commercial districts near residential, usually around the convergence of traffic lines like roads, railroads, and streetcars. But the Broadway confounded that, on a long retail-industrial strip. Tom Dubuque reported driving by it twice in his scouting mission. Once pointed out, its lineage is clear, but it’s easily missed – especially considering it’s an office furniture store on the lower level. The owners clearly care about its rich history, though, and were gracious enough to allow us to see the abandoned upper level, complete with vintage equipment. While it suffers the ravages of time, surprisingly little water damage was evident. This is a place you would not see without the access gained by THSA.

Brown, Louisville

We were able to see the Brown in Louisville; a legit stage theatre connected to the famous Brown Hotel in Louisville (home of the Hot Brown Sandwich).

Palace, Louisville

This is John Eberson, hidden in the coffered ceiling. I won’t try to describe the Palace except to say “DAZZLING.” If you didn’t see it in person, you would be well-advised to pick up the Conclave 2010 souvenir DVD – coming soon.

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